Sharmila Faruqui June 21, 1953, saw the birth of a beautiful baby girl in the famous political family of the Bhuttos of Sindh. She was named Benazir after her paternal aunt. Her charismatic father, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was ecstatic about the birth of his first child, nicknamed Pinky. Twenty-five years later, on June 21, 1978, Bhutto wrote a letter to his most beloved daughter from the death cell in Rawalpindi Jail where he advised her on the philosophy and ideology of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). In which he unfolded his thought and vision. He was confident that if one Bhutto is martyred, the other one will reign supreme. True to his conviction, and like her name 'Benazir, her determination and courage were unmatched. The world witnessed the unprecedented welcome that she received on her return from exile at Karachi, on October 18, 2007. Her countrymen thronged the roads leading to the airport to receive their courageous leader, who had dedicated her life and blood for her nation. Benazirs mission was to restore democracy and rid her country of the clutches of dictatorship. It was her undeniable faith in democratic institutions that exposed the tyrannical forces, who in the name of Islam exploited the rights of the people. Having borne a life full of tribulations, sacrifices and irreparable losses, she always managed to remain optimistic in her outlook, always emerging stronger than before - ready for the next challenge. As the first woman to lead a nation, Benazir became an inspiration for women the world over. She took every opportunity to encourage women. She was the hope of the masses, the downtrodden peasants and the marginalised labourers. There is, no doubt, about the fact that no one can ever replace the kind of leadership Benazir Bhutto possessed. Her sacrifices continue to live on in the hearts and minds of her countrymen. Despite the threat of death, she returned to her homeland and her people to begin a difficult journey; a journey where the forces of moderation and democracy would prevail against extremism and authoritarianism. At a speech delivered in Washington, on September 25, 2007, she said: The people of Pakistan want a change. Change of systems, change of programmes, change from a climate of threat to one of stability and prosperity. But her assassination shattered the spirit of the nation. It was one of the biggest losses Pakistan had ever seen, which brought the country to a new juncture. Pakistan today stands at a crossroads where challenges of increasing terrorism and poverty could literally tear the nation apart. It was Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, who realised the need for political reconciliation in order to promote and strengthen democracy in the country. She strove to develop a political consensus and negated the politics of confrontation. Today, her courageous outlook has set an example for future generations. We do not have many parallels in history to her life. The suicide attack on Mohtarma in Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi, on December 27, 2007, was, indeed, an attack on the efforts to build democratic structures to fight terrorism. However, her killers failed to kill her ideas that inspired her countrymen. She was the sign of the federation of Pakistan. Her dream was to make the nation according to what Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted it to be: A modern, democratic and progressive state with no room for religious extremism, intolerance or discrimination of caste, colour or creed. It was the pursuit of this dream that brought her back to Pakistan to challenge a dictator and the evil forces that threatened the very existence of her country. Today, on her 58th birthday, we pay homage to a woman with unflinching determination, and a brave daughter of a brave father - Shaheed-e-Jamhuriat. Mere words are insufficient to pay tribute to a leader, who lived and died solely for her nation and its people. Her struggle and sacrifice have given us a great opportunity to prove wrong the perception that Pakistan and democracy cannot go together. We, as a nation, have suffered the politics of power and blood for too long. Pakistan has made the biggest sacrifices for the cause of democracy. Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Shaheeds spirit serves us her soldiers as guiding light, and her courage as driving force. Let us together pledge to safeguard this nation from the clutches of terrorism and non-democratic forces. We need revenge from no onedemocracy is the best revenge. n The writer is Secretary Information, PPP Sindh Women Wing.